Day 87 - A big day full of great walking & emotion
Trip Start Jun 12, 2010
147Trip End Nov 18, 2010
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Breakfast was enhanced at Plas Efenechtyd by the serious banter which was entered into by both hosts and guests. Accompanying us at the breakfast was a fine young man called Steve, who appeared to be crazy enough to have the potential to be a fellow long distance walker. When we arrived back at the B&B last night, in the pitch black of a remote country village, Steve was labouring up the sharp hill on his bike. It must also be said at this point Steve lacked a front headlight and so appeared to be making his way along by touch rather than vision! Completing the package of attraction we felt to Steve was the acknowledgment that he didn’t only grow up in Tottenham but he also supported that fine, if frustrating, soccer team as Keith does. Steve, if you ever feel you’d like to exchange your bike to experience some long distance walking be sure to contact us.
Breakfast went on longer than planned because Marilyn kindly produced a laptop, giving us the chance to email Matt about his travel plans. Looking at the emails as we do about twice a month, produced another emotional surprise. Sue Osborn, mother of Matt’s late girlfriend, Kathy, has set off to visit her family in the UK and we now have a chance to catch up with her early next week
Once again we are setting off in a heavy misty rain and we walk straight up one of the remaining Clwyd hills. We skirt Moel Llanfair (447m) and Moel Y Plas (440m). The wind is raging as we gain height and we are in full wet weather gear to keep the wind and rain out. There’s no way we are getting cold though, with all that wonderful breakfast inside us. So, this day of great and unexpected variety started with distant misty views as we walked up through fern laden hillsides. By late morning we were walking down out of the Clwyd Hills with some regret, although just as we had no knowledge of how good they would be, we now can only anticipate what other unknown delights lay ahead to enliven our senses. We finish the morning walking through farmland down into Llandegla crossing many stiles including some which cross a farm where clearly the farmer is not a supporter of ramblers
Llandegla turns out to be a disappointment. We had planned to buy and eat our lunch here. It is 1 pm and we are just about ready to eat something to put back the energy expended this morning. Our first and favoured option was the General Store. No luck here, they close from noon till 2.30 for lunch!! So we move on to the pub. No joy here either, as its closed but will be re-opening soon under new management. Somehow we are not fazed and are happy to find some tables and chairs have been left out by the old owners of the pub. So we sit down, take off our backpacks and survey the meagre offerings which we happen to have knocking around in our packs. A couple of old Welsh cakes, a Snickers bar, one apple, and the Kendall Mint Cake which Debby was given in the Prestatyn Walking Shop because it was nearly out of date. Hardly a feast fit for a king but somehow we enjoyed it and reflected on the fact that George Mallory had walked up Everest on Kendall Mint Cake in 1924.
Before lunch was over another joyful communication came in from Australia announcing that Jack and Mary are still on track to join us next month in Cornwall. It will be a delight to walk with them again as they were part of our walking preparation before we left home
Now, the path takes on a completely new aura as we leave behind the gentle bucolic scenery and enter the dark mystical forest. Everything is quiet as we look out into thick forest on all sides with a heavy carpet of fallen pine needles covering the ground. There has been much rain through here and our path is muddy but none of this matters, nothing can daunt our spirits today. Not content with having gorged blackberries, Debby’s eagle eye identified a large patch of bilberries and soon we are both feverishly picking handfuls of this tiny blueberry tasting fruit
Gradually our path leads down the hillside and in to the wooded valley. Another complete change of environment just to round out our day. Although this day has been a longer one and we are beginning to feel tired, it is with a mixture of satisfaction and disappointment that we tumble out of the little woodland on the valley floor and onto a road which will lead us to tonight’s destination of Llangollen. We walk along the little used country lanes for about 30 minutes and find ourselves at 5.15 entering what is clearly a significant tourist haunt. After such a splendid and varied day of idyllic countryside of all types and a complete absence of humanity, we find our senses assaulted by such profligate tourism. At least as we cross the Llangollen canal at the Wharf, we are then offered a splendid view of the raging River Dee, on which this town has been built and which despite the clamour of humanity, has yet to be tamed.
We seek out and quickly find our B&B which actually turns out to be the Gales Hotel, a restaurant and wine bar with accommodation. While Debby soaks in a bath, Keith lays on the bed. He finds it unsatisfying now to rest at the end of the day without a good book. He needs desperately, Clifford’s advice and the Grumpy Swimmer to provide something meaty to read. His current book, David Mitchell’s Ghostwriter is just not doing it for him. When one is feeling exhausted, as Keith was at the end of today, a good book can be just as good a remedy as a hot bath or a healing massage for driving out weariness. Debby simply plugs in the Ipod to some relaxing music and closes her eyes.
By 7.30 we walk back out into the street to consider the eating establishments of Llangollen. Within 2 minutes the fierce cold wind has driven us straight back in to the Wine Bar accompanying our accommodation. Now is not the time to be walking about to add to the 28 kms we’ve already completed today. Enough is enough! We settle for a tuna salad for Debby and pork steaks with a huge serving of leek infused mash for Keith. The Barman wisely advises us on some good wine and so we return finally to our room sated, very tired but full of the anticipation of the Vale of Llangollen which will be our partner for the next two days.